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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 305-310

Operationalizing universal health coverage in Nigeria through social health insurance


1 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom; National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Abuja, Nigeria
2 National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Abuja, Nigeria; University of Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Arnold Ikedichi Okpani
National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Plot 681/682 Port Harcourt Crescent Area 11, Garki, Abuja

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0300-1652.170382

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Nigeria faces challenges that delay progress toward the attainment of the national government's declared goal of universal health coverage (UHC). One such challenge is system-wide inequities resulting from lack of financial protection for the health care needs of the vast majority of Nigerians. Only a small proportion of Nigerians have prepaid health care. In this paper, we draw on existing evidence to suggest steps toward reforming health care financing in Nigeria to achieve UHC through social health insurance. This article sets out to demonstrate that a viable path to UHC through expanding social health insurance exists in Nigeria. We argue that encouraging the states which are semi-autonomous federating units to setup and manage their own insurance schemes presents a unique opportunity for rapidly scaling up prepaid coverage for Nigerians. We show that Nigeria's federal structure which prescribes a sharing of responsibilities for health care among the three tiers of government presents serious challenges for significantly extending social insurance to uncovered groups. We recommend that rather than allowing this governance structure to impair progress toward UHC, it should be leveraged to accelerate the process by supporting the states to establish and manage their own insurance funds while encouraging integration with the National Health Insurance Scheme.


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